An Ounce of Prevention

At one of my recent courses, we were discussing chronic medical conditions that could potentially cause a problem while on the trails. The list of possible conditions is almost infinite, but I think there are a few things that people with certain common health issues should do to help themselves, and help others take care of them, if needed.

First, if someone has a health problem that may cause them to be unable to speak for themselves, a medical ID bracelet or other identifier is critical; for example, a seizure disorder. It’s not impossible for a person with a well-controlled seizure disorder to have a breakthrough seizure. Maybe a medication dose was missed, maybe meds need to be changed. Either way, aside from the potential for a person harming themselves with a fall from the seizure, a breakthrough seizure in a person with a seizure history is far less concerning than a seizure in someone who’s never had one.

Another condition that could benefit from a medical ID would be diabetes. An unresponsive person with diabetes might only need glucose, and while you may not be able to do that yourself in the woods, that “heads up” might allow EMS providers to administer a life-saving treatment sooner rather than later.

Now, I purposely say that an ID bracelet (or other way of notification) is good because a person may not want to share their medical history, so this can keep pertinent conditions private unless necessary.

Another problem for which a person should have some responsibility towards self-preservation would be anaphylactic reactions to bee stings. It’s simple—bring your Epi-Pen. The bees (hornets, wasps, etc) have been brutal this year. So bring your Epi-Pen. Make sure your prescription is up to date and keep it in your pack, with your helmet, or just put a note on your handlebar as a reminder.

What about asthma? There are many asthma triggers, including exercise or environmental triggers. If you’ve got anything beyond the mildest asthma, bring your inhaler.

It's annoying enough when someone goes on a ride without some simple tools, or a long hike without some snacks or water.

These simple steps can prevent some things from happening. And it seems to me that enough bad things happen without us even trying. 

Are there other common conditions that you can think of where a bit of preparation and prevention could be helpful? Let me know in the comments.

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